Call To Ban Vaping On Social Media To ‘Protect the Kids’
Anti-vaping groups from across the world have joined forces urging the bosses of social media platforms to eradicate the promotion of e-cigarettes, heat not burn products and lit tobacco.
The executives of Facebook – Instagram – Twitter and Snapchat have received a letter signed by 125 organizations from 48 countries, including the UK, demanding the immediate end of all ‘promotion’ and the permaban and removal of all posts from paid social media ‘influencers’.
E-cigarettes have been specifically targeted, namely JUUL [no surpise lol] however, after reading the letter it would seem once again IQOS and it’s parent company Phillip Morris is being singled out and used as a catchall for all things vape.
The letter sent late last week and made public just yesterday makes for worrying reading:
In light of recent reporting from Reuters on young social media influencers being used to market tobacco products, the undersigned organizations are writing to urge Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat to take swift action to curb the aggressive advertising of all tobacco products and e-cigarettes on your platforms –including cigarettes, e-cigarettes and the recently introduced heated cigarettes such as Philip Morris International’s IQOS.
I reported just over a week ago the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority was currently investigating seven claims that influencer posts marketing Vype e-cigarettes were allegedly designed to attract kids. And no sooner had IQOS been given the green light to sell its HNB product in America, it came under fire for using a 21-year-old Russian social media influencer, whilst maintaining the device should only be sold to 25’s and over.
UK Anti-Vape Groups Have Signed Up
The letter appears to have been organized by the US-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids a none profit ‘charity’ with a long history of battling Big Tobacco. In recent times they’ve turned their attention to vaping – despite it not being a tobacco product – and have managed to suck in a number of influential politicians, health groups, philanthropists and a vast army of screeching soccer moms.
This coalition of the ignorant, whilst spouting absolute bollocks and lies about vaping has somehow managed to get its anti-vape message heard in the corridors of power. The alleged ‘teen vape epidemic‘ over in the States has their grubby fingerprints all over it.
Sadly organizations from the UK have signed the letter with most hailing from Scotland – thanks very much neighbours! The UK groups are: Action Against Smoking and Health [ASH], ASH Scotland, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties in Scotland, British Lung Foundation Scotland and Cancer Focus Northern Ireland.
Just why those groups are going against the grain of the medical consensus here in the UK of the health benefits of e-cigarettes is anyone’s guess.
What Does the Anti-Vape Brigade Actually Want?
The letter is demanding swift action from the social media giants:
- 1. Amend your content/ branded content policy to be consistent with your advertising policy banning the promotion of tobacco products, and to ensure that all tobacco products and e-cigarettes are included in this policy. Enacting this crucial change would prevent tobacco companies like Philip Morris International from paying social media influencers to use your platforms to promote harmful and addictive products, including IQOS.
- 2. Enforce tobacco advertising policies. Immediately remove all content that promotes #IQOS or any tobacco product and features an explicit paid disclaimer.
- 3. Suspend the accounts of frequent/repeat offenders. We have attached a list of handles that have repeatedly posted paid content promoting Philip Morris International’s tobacco products. While we can only report on the offenders caught in available social listening tools, we urge you to conduct your own investigation and suspend accounts of users that have violated your tobacco policy.
As to what will happen if social media platforms don’t act isn’t mentioned, though they have made themselves available to “discuss any ways in which we can help and/or support your next steps.”
I guess any sort of threat such as legal action would be seen as a threat and therefore a ransom demand of sorts…
Facebook, in particular, is currently embroiled in a ‘political bias’ row with those on the right of politics banned, drawing claims it is shutting down alternative political views and impacting on freedom of speech. Given the current climate [I call it a witch hunt], I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Facebook acts to keep its apparent wholesome image intact.
Responding to the letter Facebook’s Stephanie Otway told the media it was looking into the points raised adding:
…to understand how we can improve.
Twitter’s Elizabeth Luke said the company’s rules already banned the:
…promotion of tobacco products, accessories and brands worldwide.
Great PR right there…as in saying nothing meaningful lol.
Incidentally, so far SnapChat has declined to comment…not so chatty lol.
Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids was more than happy to chime in with his 2 cents:
Tobacco companies use social media to promote their products because they know Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat are the gateway to young people all over the world.
In fact, the tobacco industry’s entire business model depends on addicting the next generation of tobacco users to its products.
Social media companies must take action now to protect young people from the tobacco industry’s predatory marketing practices.
A spokesman for IQOS said removing HNB and e-cigarettes from social media would rid smokers the choice of safer alternatives to lit tobacco:
The simple fact is that digital channels form an important part of our efforts to inform men and women who smoke about the existence of better alternatives to cigarettes, and to help them make informed decisions.
By trying to pressure us and digital channel owners to effectively block these channels and to prevent adult smokers from accessing information about better choices, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is in effect perpetuating the consumption of tobacco in its most harmful form: combustible cigarettes.
Wise words backed up by this tweet from PMI’s Dr Moira Gilchrist who pointed out social media was used by adults too:
CTFK thinks it’s “laughable” that social media might be helpful to get information about better alternatives to adults who smoke🤔
What is laughable is the idea that adults don’t use social media.
I use it EVERY SINGLE DAY.
— Dr. Moira Gilchrist (@DrGilchrist) May 22, 2019
Will Vaping Be Eradicated From Social Media?
Who knows what’s in the minds of those billionaire tech-heads…but I don’t hold out much hope that Facebook, in particular, will put up any kind of fight to keep any kind of e-cigarette content on the platform and not just so-called ‘paid influencers’ either.
I’m not saying that your favourite vape group, vaping personality, reviewer or even EcigClick’s own Facebook page will be removed any time soon, but seeing how Zuckerberg, in particular, seems to kowtow to any form of threat, imaginary or otherwise, what I will say it’s worrying times indeed.
Put it this way, the platforms would have to create an algorithm to differentiate between say a hand check in a vape group, a review by a bona fide’ website like EcigClick and a paid promotional post…
Faced with that headache I have little doubt they’ll simply bring down the ban hammer or at least adopt even more aggressive moderating…like I said worrying times especially based on the whims of a handful of executives un-schooled in the truth about e-cigarettes in particular.
What’s even more worrying is there doesn’t appear to be anything we as the larger vape community can do to combat this threat…
However Dean the Devil Vaper made his thoughts very clear tweeting his reply to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:
The people in those pictures are adults and are predominantly (if not all) using the IQOS.
IQOS = Heat Not Burn
Heat Not Burn IS NOT vaping.
Target IQOS all you want, but vaping is saving lives.
Sorry (not sorry) for denying Big Tobacco their cancer victims
— The Devil Vaper (@TheDevilVaper) May 22, 2019
Very diplomatic mate, maybe you guys reading this should add your thoughts too and not just on Twitter but all over social media 😉
Sadly, and given these anti-anything types tend to have their heads so far up their own asses they only see their side of any debate, I doubt anything will change their minds…not even the projected death of 7 million people globally each year from lit tobacco-related deaths.
Banning the promotion of e-cigarettes and HNB products on social media platforms is lunacy and those calling for it should step back and think about how vaping, in particular, can save at least a Billion Lives over the next 20 years…that’s the next generation you all seem so fond of talking about.
And surely not even those hard headed billionaires, Mr. Mark Zuckerberg, Mr.Adam Mosseri, Mr. Jack Dorsey, and Mr. Evan Spiegel, want that much blood on their hands?